Archive for the 'wine writing' Category

Riedel shatters the peace and threatens blogger

“Hell, I thought,” Georg explains, “people think the shape of the goddam wine bottle is significant, why not the shape of the glass? I know I can convince wealthy wine drinkers that it matters, that’s easy. And from there, the unwashed public will follow.”

riedel_shatterDo you really think that is something that Georg Riedel, the Austrian who pioneered matching the shape of glassware with different grape varieties would say? Um, I don’t. The quote was from a satirical piece by Ron Washam, aka The Hosemaster posted earlier this week. Your mileage may vary with the piece, but apparently Riedel was none-too-amused about it and his mood shattered faster than a crystal glass. The Goliath of stemware then directed some American attorneys to send a threatening takedown letter to the blogger! (read the letter)

I’m not a lawyer. But I guess Riedel would have to prove that this posting on August 3 damaged his business? Good luck with that. Frankly, I think the letter will actually attract much more attention to the original post. Further, it could draw ill-will from wine thought-leaders, be they writers or sommeliers or retailers. Or even the unwashed public, to borrow hosemaster’s term, if the word about this spreads. What if there were pushback against Riedel–not over the satire, but over Georg’s heavy-handed response? That is not an implausible scenario and would be a PR disaster for the company, much more so than the original post, which probably only Georg took seriously. (It reminds me of those people who are fooled by The Onion stories…)

What do you think: considering this incident, will you be ordering more Riedel glasses any time soon?

Blech. It leaves a bad taste in my mouth. Viva Zalto!

Tasting note: “bitter clown tears”


This tasting note is no doubt better than the wine!

But, oddly, I bet it actually helped sales of the wine (assuming people read it). It wouldn’t surprise me if there were a store out there somewhere that posted only mockeries or send-ups of tasting notes. Would resonate well with the youngs. If anyone lacks creativity but wants to get started, there’s always the silly tasting note generator.

Via imgur

Parker’s putdowns

Robert Parker (not Tony) standing with Yao Ming (Image removed–see update below)

Robert Parker’s “World Tour” of Asia continues. And while it may be hedonistic fruit bombs poured from the importer “partners” by day, Parker drops the chat room bombs late at night. Evidence #1, comments about the wines Eric Asimov (NYT) and Jon Bonne (SF Chronicle) presented at a panel entitled “Unexpected Napa Valley Wines”: Read more…

Robert Parker, live


“When I retire, I don’t want to see the wine writing profession wither away.”

That was one of the many provocative things that Robert Parker said before–get this–a room of wine writers (which prompted some chortles on twitter about new career paths). Granted, wine writing and journalism more generally have changed since Parker was at his peak. But the après-Parker era will not be one of silence; indeed, diversity of opinion is now the norm.

At any rate, Richard Jennings attended the talk and he posted key passages from Parker’s talk as well as the above picture. Here are some of the winning quotes: Read more…

Wine tweeps to savor

wine_twitterWith the Twitter IPO in the news this week, and the new in-line graphics and better threading of discussions, you’re probably wondering: who are some great wine people to follow on Twitter?

Well, I have just what you need over on I put together a list of 16 wine people (“infulencers”) worth following on Twitter. Clearly, there are many more, but this is a good start.

Check it out and excellent graphics, typical of the excellent work by the folks at F&W. Hit the comments with your suggestions of good folks to follow. Also, what do you hope to get out of wine on Twitter?



Riding the hashtag — in wine

twitter_wineThere’s an excellent story on Gary Vaynerchuk in Sunday’s NYT business section. Gary left Wine Library and WLTV couple of years ago to start a firm providing social media marketing and–surprise!–he’s bringing his trademark thunder to his new field. Vaynermedia now employs 290 people and has a list of top companies as clients. Congratulations to Gary–it seems he is well on his way to his dream of owning the NY Jets.

We haven’t checked in here with wine and social media for a while, so it’s worth discussing. Wineries seem the most ham-fisted at social media. While some interactions between wineries and consumers seem possible and natural, many more seem forced. If I tweet about a wine I had recently, do I really want the winery giving me virtual high fives? No, that would seem like trolling. Similarly, if a winery simply retweets every tweet mentioning their wines, why should a consumer follow them? Wineries face the crucial problem that while a consumer may be into wine in general, the consumer may not really have an allegiance to one wine/winery, especially on social media. More often than not, it’s the people behind the wineries (such as Jeremy Seysses or Randall Grahm) who have better tweets than an official winery account, which too often seem blatantly commercial and gains little traction.

Wine shop staff can use social media to great effect, as Wine Library TV illustrated. But if all they offer is a stream of tweets or updates relating to prices it can get dull, even if they have a deal of the day, which you will rarely see from a winery. And shops have the ability in many states to hold events in-store, which can mean free tastings. Or shops can offer links to stories about wines they stock or otherwise engage in intelligent conversation. Wine bars and restaurants also seem better suited to the medium than wineries as sommeliers such as Patrick Cappiello or Michael Madrigale have shown.

As the NYT article points out, social media advertising can be self-defeating: if a model proves successful, it will be imitated ad nauseam, which will eventually annoy the hell out of everyone who will leave the platform.

What do you think: is a blend of social media and the wine biz impossible or essential? Who does it best on the whole, wineries, wine shops, or wine bars/restaurants?

Parker’s 100-point enthusiasm

kermit_lynchThere’s an interview with importer Kermit Lynch in yesterday’s NYT magazine. It’s worth clicking on just to see the view from his deck in Provence–it becomes easy to understand grafting on a career that would take you back there as often as possible!

The interviewer sets Lynch up as the anti-Parker in a lot of ways. Lynch remarks:

I’ve read so many times that Parker’s great secret or invention or whatever — his route to fame and power — was that 100-point scoring system. I always thought it was his writing. He’s great at expressing his enthusiasm. You want to feel that way yourself: I want to get all excited!

While Parker’s lasting influence definitely will be popularizing points, I agree with Lynch that Parker’s notes have conveyed an infectious enthusiasm over the years. In his heyday, Parker could get people revved up about a wine even if a “balls to the walls zinfandel” might not exactly be what they wanted. Today, many tasting notes are precious, fanciful or or merely anodyne addenda that readers skip on their way to skimming scores (if that is their wont). It’s hard to write good tasting notes, especially when reviewing a group of wines form the same region or vintage that are broadly similar. And Parker’s descriptors were often limited or repetitive. But because notes are fundamentally conveying an opinion rather than fact, Lynch is right to underscore Parker’s enthusiasm, which often appears lost today under hints of marzipan and toasty vanilla.

“Dr. Vino’s verdict” over at

foodandwine.comI’m doing a series of micro-pieces over at in a space they’re calling “Dr. Vino’s Verdict.” I can’t promise the wisdom of Solomon but hopefully the verdicts are better than those of Judge Judy. So far I’ve weighed in a few topics, such as the the fastest way to chill wines, how to save leftover wine for free, and which corkscrew offers the most bang for the buck.

The magazine has commissioned original art for each post and I can unabashedly say (since I had nothing to do with it) that the art is fantastic.

They have very good folks contributing wine posts to their enhanced wine coverage; the best ways to keep up with it, should you care to, is to sign up for the weekly email “The Wine List” or follow them on Twitter.


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